Can information alone change behavior? Response to arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh

Journal Article

We study how effectively information induces Bangladeshi households to avoid a health risk. The response to information is large and rapid; knowing that the household's well water has an unsafe concentration of arsenic raises the probability that the household changes to another well within one year by 0.37. Households who change wells increase the time spent obtaining water fifteen-fold. We identify a causal effect of information, since incidence of arsenic is uncorrelated with household characteristics. Our door-to-door information campaign provides well-specific arsenic levels without which behavior does not change. Media communicate general information about arsenic less expensively and no less effectively. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Madajewicz, M; Pfaff, A; Geen, AV; Graziano, J; Hussein, I; Momotaj, H; Sylvi, R; Ahsan, H

Published Date

  • 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 84 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 731 - 754

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-3878

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2006.12.002